It's getting harder and harder to ignore web standards in Europe. Did you know the European Union has all kinds of web standards in their on-line publishing guidelines?
Some time ago, I emailed Margot Wallström, Vice-President of the European Commission, for information on how (and if) web standards were used in on-line publications made by the EU. Her answer surprised me a bit. Although all the different EU websites seem like a mess, there’s actually quite an extensive set of guidelines.
The EU strives for Level A WCAG compliance in its websites. It might not seem much, but you can’t deny the fact that they are actually embracing a W3 standard. It’s also not just another word, they’ve actually thought it through: “People also think that basic accessibility features are difficult to implement and that it costs a fortune to implement them. This isn’t true either as there are some basic standards available which can increase the accessibility and usability of your web sites with little effort…”
The Quality Control bit is where it gets really interesting. It appears there is a central CSS file available with the default templates. The CSS file may, in some cases, not be overridden. The CSS has to be validated as well.
Linkrot is one of the main concerns for such a sprawling internet-scape as the EU, therefore deletion or change of an URL or sites or substantial parts of site must be made known to the core web team and the users.
You may use Shockwave or Flash, but always have to include by-pass links.
The correctness of the HTML code has to be well validated according to the HTML 4.01 transitional standard. One could argue it should be HTML 4.01 Strict at the very least, but considering the diversity of the EU, it will probably be nearly impossible to enforce strict standards.
The list goes on and on, and provides for some interesting reading, as well as some interesting insights on how an extremely large organisation is able to thoroughly organise its publications.